Oct 2020

15

Pros and Cons: The New Job Support Scheme

Before diving into the positives and negatives of the new Job Support Scheme I want to recap on what it is. 

What is the Job Support Scheme?

The new Job Support Scheme was announced by the government in September, and it'is designed to top up the wages of employees unable to work full-time because of coronavirus restrictions over the winter. Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Businesses will continue to pay their employees for time worked, but the burden of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction), and the employee will keep their job.

The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months, until April 2021.

Main Pros for the Job Support Scheme

This scheme is designed to protect jobs where businesses are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus. 9.6 million employees are still on furlough leave across the UK, with the scheme still supporting 1.2 million businesses. This new scheme could help mitigate the impact of the end of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ending on 31st October.

Employers can receive up to £697.92 per month wage top up of eligible employees unable to work full-time because of coronavirus restrictions over the winter.

An unexpected silver lining to the scheme is that employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria. This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers who have availed of the CJRS for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

Main cons of the Job Support Scheme

It’s far less generous than the current Job Retention Scheme - The Government contribution will be capped at £697.92 a month compared to the initial £2,500 plus associated Employers’ National Insurance and pension contribution under the Job Retention Scheme placing a greater responsibility on the employer to fund employment costs. In fact, under the scheme the government never pays more than 22% of the employees' overall salary.

The employer ends up paying more in wages than the hours they get in return - The percentage cost to the employer far outweighs the percentage of productive hours provided by that employee to the business and a stark reality is that it costs more than 50% more to employ several people working 40% of the time compared to fewer people working full time.

Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period within which their employer is claiming the grant for that employee. Therefore, employers face the dilemma now of assessing demand for the forthcoming months for their business and making decisions about the number of employees required.

Job Support Scheme payments will be made monthly in arrears commencing in December, reimbursing the employer for the government’s contribution. The grant will not cover employer NICs or pension contributions, but these contributions will remain payable by the employer. This means that the overall cost of employment for employers is higher than simply their contribution to employee salaries.

Sadly, it does not appear that the Job Support Scheme will avoid a rise of redundancies over the coming months as employers seek to manage their cashflows to survive the winter months. Join our latest webinar to find out more about the New Job Support Scheme and whether it’s right for your organisation.

Webinar: New Job Support Scheme Explained
18th November – 10.30am

Register Now

In this webinar, we look at what you need to know about the new Job Support Scheme, including which employees are eligible, the level of government funding, and how the scheme is actioned through payroll. We will also explore the rise in redundancies and the new changes regarding statutory redundancy and notice pay for furloughed employees. 

What you'll learn:

  • Everything you need to know about the Job Support Scheme
  • Which employers and employees are eligible
  • How to operate the Job Support Scheme
  • How BrightPay’s Job Support Scheme Calculator & Claim Report works
  • How to calculate notice pay and redundancy pay for furloughed employees
  • How to keep in touch with employees on reduced hours

Register Now

Related articles:

BrightPay Covid-19 Resources Hub
Webinar: CJRS Changes & Flexible Furlough - What you need to know
HMRC set to crack down on furlough fraud

Posted byZoe ColverinCoronavirusPayrollPayroll Software


Oct 2020

8

Beyond Furlough: Important updates – New Job Support Scheme

Figures announced have advised that under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) HMRC have already paid out £39.3 billion to employers up until 20th September 2020, an increase of £4.9 billion from £35.4 billion that was paid out to employers up until 16th August 2020. 9.6 million employees still have been furloughed and the amount of employers claiming under the CJRS remained at 1.2 million.

In October, only 60% of the wages up to a maximum of £1,875 in the month can be claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and employers must pay the additional 20% to ensure employees are receiving 80%. Employers must also pay employers’ National Insurance and employers’ pension contribution costs. As the CJRS comes to an end on 31st October 2020, employers must submit all claims under this scheme on HMRC’s online portal by 30th November 2020.

HMRC has confirmed that if an employee is on jury duty and is being paid by their employer while on jury duty, the employer can submit a claim for wages paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. HMRC have advised “The employee is furloughed, so is not doing any work for their employer or doing anything of benefit for them. They are doing work for a third party, but that’s allowable under CJRS (whether voluntary or paid)”.

When flexible furlough was introduced on 1st July 2020, approximately 950,000 employees returned to work on a part time basis which was equal to 20% of employees that were furloughed nationwide.

HMRC have started to send letters regarding Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims to approximately 3,000 employers who HMRC believe may have overclaimed for payments under the scheme. HMRC estimate that there could be a figure of up to £3.6 billion claimed wrongly or fraudulently under the CRJS and there are 27,000 cases being examined by HMRC at present where an overclaim may have occurred. There have been a number of arrests due to fraud relating to the CJRS, one being for an amount of nearly £495,000.

As soon as we know more, we will be updating our online help guides, and join our webinar on 18th November where we will be able to show you the Job Support Scheme in more detail, along with how it is actioned in the payroll software.

Webinar: New Job Support Scheme Explained

18th November – 10.30am 

In this webinar, we look at what you need to know about the new Job Support Scheme, including which employees are eligible, the level of government funding, and how the scheme is actioned through payroll. We will also explore the rise in redundancies and the new changes regarding statutory redundancy and notice pay for furloughed employees. Register now. 

What you'll learn: 

• Everything you need to know about the Job Support Scheme
• Which employers and employees are eligible
• How to operate the Job Support Scheme
• How BrightPay’s Job Support Scheme Calculator & Claim Report works
• How to calculate notice pay and redundancy pay for furloughed employees
• How to keep in touch with employees on reduced hours

Register now.

Related articles:
Covid-19 Resources Hub
On Demand webinar: The end of CJRS, Remote Working & Redundancies
Blog: HMRC set to crack down on furlough fraud

Posted byDebbie ClarkeinCoronavirusHMRCPayrollPayroll Software


Sep 2020

22

Managing Annual Leave During COVID-19: 3 Tips Every HR Manager Needs To Know

COVID-19 has thrown many curveballs for businesses of every size and industry across the United Kingdom. Employers are finding themselves in situations that they could never have expected and faced with challenges that nobody saw coming. However, life must go on and business owners are forced to find creative solutions to overcome these challenges and ensure the continued growth of their businesses.

One of the most common challenges facing employers right now is related to annual leave. Of course, many employees across the country have been placed on furlough for some time in 2020 and many are still on furlough today. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not entitled to annual leave, or that their employee rights no longer apply.

So, employers who have had to place employees on furlough are now trying to figure out how to manage annual leave for those employees in a way which is fair to their staff without being detrimental to their business. Thankfully, help is at hand. In this blog post, we share top tips for employers who find themselves navigating these murky waters and help you to take a strategic approach that’s in everyone’s interest.

3 Tips For Managing Annual Leave During COVID-19

Thankfully, help is at hand. These top tips for employers who find themselves navigating these murky waters will help you to take a strategic approach that’s in everyone’s interest.

Review Existing Policy

The first thing you need to do when figuring out how you’re going to manage your employee annual leave is to review your existing annual leave policy. Most businesses will have standard annual leave policies that don’t vary all that much from business to business. However, there are some things in your policy that you may want to change temporarily.

For example, many businesses state in that policy that annual leave cannot be carried from one year to another. However, the rules in relation to the carry over of annual leave have been temporarily relaxed to deal with the coronavirus disruption. Many employees have not been able to take their annual leave and will likely not be able to do so in the months to come and so you should review and update this element of your policy in light of these relaxed rules.

Internal Communication

The second step in this process is to ensure that you communicate any and all changes to your existing annual leave policy with all employees. If you are making changes to the policy, it is essential that you share these changes with staff.

Simply sending a company-wide email may not be sufficient in this case, as it’s very likely that the email could get lost amongst many other emails in the employee’s inbox. A better option would be to distribute the updated policy via an online employee portal such as BrightPay Connect. With Connect’s self-service portal and app, employees can access important documents anywhere, anytime, and receive instant notifications on their smartphone or tablet when a new document has been made available to them.

If you think that employees will have a lot of questions regarding the changes to the existing policy, it would be in your best interest to hold a meeting either online or in person, where employees have the opportunity to ask questions and you can give detailed explanations so that everyone is on the same page.

Be As Flexible As Possible

Finally, human resources managers or line managers who are dealing with incoming annual leave requests should at all times strive to be as flexible and facilitating as possible. These are very unusual and utterly unprecedented circumstances that we find ourselves in. You may have employees with underlying conditions, with children but no access to childcare etc. whose ability to take holiday time is compromised through no fault of their own.

Therefore, it is in the best interest of your employees and your business to try where possible to accommodate the needs of your employees when it comes to annual leave until the public health status has improved.

Manage Annual Leave During COVID-19 With BrightPay Connect

BrightPay Connect is an optional cloud portal add-on to our multi-award winning payroll software. With Connect, employers can take advantage of the latest in cloud automation technologies and employee self-service. Connect boasts industry-leading features in both payroll and human resources to create a holistic cloud portal that actually works for your business.

With BrightPay Connect, managing annual leave is simple, and it’s even more beneficial during COVID-19 as employees are working from home more than ever before. Connect allows employees to request annual leave straight from an employee app on their smartphone or tablet. The request instantly appears in the Connect dashboard of the relevant manager.

The manager can then check if other employees are on leave during the requested dates via a company calendar, which is also accessible on their online dashboard. Then, they can approve or reject the request and the employee is instantly notified on their app. Furthermore, a time-stamped log of all requests, approvals and rejections is kept in the cloud for future reference. This is ideal when multiple users are managing annual leave remotely.

Book Your BrightPay Connect Demo Today

If your business is struggling with annual leave management because of COVID-19, then why not get in touch with us today? Book your free BrightPay Connect demo where a member of our BrightPay Connect team of experts will be happy to assist you. We will walk you through the various features of BrightPay Connect and explain in detail how these features can make annual leave management easier than ever before.

Posted bySarah TyrrellinAnnual LeaveBrightPay CloudCoronavirus


Sep 2020

16

Today marks 45 days before the end of the Furlough Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will officially come to an end on 31st October 2020 and employers will need to decide to either:

  • Bring their employees back to work on their normal hours 
  • Reduce their employees’ hours 
  • Terminate their employment 

The government has introduced a new Job Retention Bonus Scheme, which seeks to incentivise employers to hold off on redundancies. This is a one-off payment to employers who have availed of the CJRS for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

However, the unfortunate truth is if you cannot afford to pay your employees, you will need to terminate their employment. If a worker loses their job and is entitled to redundancy pay, this should be calculated based on their pre-furlough wages, and firms can't use the money from furlough to subsidise redundancy packages.

If you are making 20 or more employees redundant within any 90-day period at a single establishment, you must consult employees. This involves speaking to them about why there are redundancies being made and if there are any alternatives to redundancy.

The period of time that this consultation takes depends on how many jobs are being made redundant.

  • 100 or more redundancies - the consultation must start at least 45 days before any dismissals take effect 
  • 20 to 99 redundancies - the consultation must start at least 30 days before any dismissals take effect 
  • When there are fewer than 20 redundancies, there is no set time period. 

If you do not consult employees in a redundancy situation, any redundancies you make will almost certainly be unfair and you could be taken to an employment tribunal.

Today marks 45 days before the end of the furlough scheme – the deadline for large employers to commence the consultation process where 100 or more redundancies are being made. A recent study estimated that the UK was likely to see around 450,000 redundancies this autumn alone. It warned this figure could exceed 735,000 if redundancy notifications continued to rise.

Fresh calls have been made for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be extended over fears the UK could be hit with an onslaught of redundancy notices, as employers seek to comply with the 45-day notice period.

Register for our upcoming webinar to find out more about the end of the CJRS, the Job Retention Bonus Scheme and Redundancies. Places are limited – click here to book your place now.

Posted byRachel HynesinCoronavirus


Aug 2020

18

Furlough wind down timescales

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been hugely popular and will continue to support jobs until the end of October, however, from 1st July, many changes were made to the scheme.

The government’s furlough scheme will wind down in upcoming months, employers will need to contribute to employees’ wages and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will end fully at the end of October.

Before August, employers could claim 80% of a furloughed employee’s wage costs, to a monthly maximum of £2,500. The government also refunded employer NICs and auto-enrolment pension contributions on this sum.

Going forward, the level of grant will be reduced each month. Employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of paying their furloughed staff, and this employer contribution will gradually increase in September and October.

  • In August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500, but employers are now required to pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions. For the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs that they would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed.
  • For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will need to pay employer NI contributions and employer pension contributions plus 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500.
  • In October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will need to pay employer NI contributions and employer pension contributions plus 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500.

Employers will continue to be able to choose to top up employee wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense if they wish. Employers will have to pay their employees for the hours worked.

After 31st October, the government contributions will finish and the scheme will come to an end.

When the scheme was extended until October, employers were promised that they would not face a ‘cliff-edge’ withdrawal of funding and that the scheme would be wound down gradually. The wind-down phase of the furlough scheme is more generous than many had expected, with most furloughed employee wage costs still being met by the government over the coming months. Depending on how the re-opening of businesses progresses, this approach may give some employers time to rebuild and save jobs that would otherwise have been lost.

Job Retention Bonus Scheme

During last month’s summer economic update, the chancellor announced that although the scheme will end at the end of October, all businesses can avail of a Job Retention Bonus Scheme for each employee they bring back from furlough. This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

To be eligible, employees will need to earn at least an average of £520 per month for November, December and January, they must have been furloughed at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and they must have been continuously employed up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31‌‌‌ ‌January has been received.

How BrightPay can help? 

BrightPay software is being continually updated to ensure you can adapt your processes to all the upcoming changes regarding furlough. 

If you’re not already using BrightPay, why not book a demo or download BrightPay’s free 60 day trial? One of our payroll experts will show you its clear and easy to use interface and talk you through its underlying comprehensive set of payroll functionality.

Posted byZoe ColverinCoronavirus


Jul 2020

24

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) Updates

Employers need to submit claims on HMRC’s CJRS online portal for any furlough payments under the CJRS that relate to periods ending on or before 30th June by 31st July 2020. You will no longer be able to submit a claim for the period up to 30th June after 31st July.

The CJRS was originally introduced by the government from 1st March in response to the coronavirus pandemic in order to give financial support to businesses and employees. Under this scheme all employers, regardless of size or business sector, could claim from HMRC a payment for 80% of the wage costs for employees that were furloughed up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee.

From 1st July 2020 employees that were previously furloughed can be brought back to work on a part time basis by their employers once an agreement is reached between the employer and the employee. Employers will still be able to claim under the CJRS for hours that are not worked by the employee. The new grant claim will be based on hours not worked by the employee and the normal hours an employee would usually work.

HMRC has also updated their guidance to confirm employers can claim amounts paid to an employee who is serving their statutory or contractual notice period up to the claim limit of 80% of their pay up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. However, grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments.

HMRC plan on introducing a method through the tax system to recover grant amounts overclaimed by employers under the CJRS. Repaying overclaimed grant amounts back will reduce or prevent any potential tax liability under that legislation. Tax liabilities may be due on any overclaim amounts. Further details will follow.

Interested in finding out more? Join BrightPay for a free webinar where we explore the key changes in relation to flexible furlough, phasing out of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and changes to making a claim. Places are limited - click here to book your place now.

Posted byDebbie ClarkeinCoronavirus


Jul 2020

13

How To Process COVID-19 Related SSP in BrightPay 20/21

HMRC have advised that if an employee needs to take time off sick or to self-isolate due to COVID-19, the first 3 waiting days that normally apply for SSP will be disregarded and the employee will be entitled to receive SSP from the first day.

We have programmed BrightPay 20/21 so that there is a new option for ‘COVID-19 Related Sick Leave’ and, by choosing this option, the software will automatically apply any SSP due to the employee from day one. Whereas, if you were to choose the normal SSP, the software will take into account the usual 3 waiting days.

With the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, the employer can claim for up to 2 weeks sick leave for an employee that cannot work due to COVID-19, and also those who are self-isolating or shielding, subject to eligibility criteria.

An SSP Claim Report is available in BrightPay to assist users in ascertaining the amounts needed for input into HMRC's Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme online service.

A Step By Step Guide To Processing In BrightPay

Processing COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay is easy in BrightPay. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide to help you do it.

Processing COVID-19 Related Sick Leave in BrightPay

  1. First, you need to select the employee’s name on the left. Under ‘Statutory Pay’, click ‘Calendar’, and on the calendar, select the date range that the employee is out on sick leave.
  2. Click ‘Sick Leave’ from the options on the right of the screen and choose 'COVID-19 Related Sick Leave'. The number of ‘Qualifying Days’ & ‘SSP Days’ will be displayed on the screen, bypassing the usual 3 waiting days.
  3. When you close out of the calendar, BrightPay will automatically apply any SSP due to the employee.

It is important to note that if existing payment records have not been recorded in BrightPay or if there is insufficient historical payroll data to determine the employee's average weekly earnings, the automatic calculation may be inaccurate or not possible. In this instance, you can manually override the employee’s average weekly earnings.

BrightPay’s Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme Claim Report

As mentioned, BrightPay also has a claim report to assist users in determining the amounts that you can reclaim through the Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme. This report can be found within the ‘Employees’ tab in BrightPay.

  1. First enter the start and end date of the claim period you are claiming for.
  2. On the next screen, select the employees you wish to include in your claim.
  3. If your chosen claim period covers some of the 19/20 tax year, enter COVID-19 related SSP amounts that you wish to claim for the previous tax year.
  4. On the final screen, a summary of your claim will be displayed. Enter any of the additional information that HMRC require when making a claim. If you wish, you can view the full report, and this can be printed, exported or emailed for your records.

Each claim report generated in the software is stand-alone and no data is saved each time a claim report is run. Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have exported the report, so that you don’t lose the information.

SSP & Furloughed Employees

Furloughed employees retain their statutory rights, including their right to Statutory Sick Pay, and so furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least the rate of SSP, subject to them meeting the eligibility criteria. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time.

If an employee becomes sick while furloughed, it is up to the employers to decide whether to move these employees onto Statutory Sick Pay or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate. If the employee is moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary. Whereas, if the employee is kept on the furloughed rate, they remain eligible for the employer to claim for these costs through the furlough scheme.

Free COVID-19 Webinars For Employers

Want to keep up-to-date with the latest updates regarding COVID-19 and businesses? We’re holding regular webinars to share with you all news relating to HMRC updates, what employers need to know and how you can make sure you’re complying with best practices at all times.

Click here to watch our previous webinars on-demand, where we cover everything from important COVID-19 payroll updates to return to work government policies and more.

To receive email notifications letting you know when we’re holding our next webinar, sign-up to our mailing list and ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates for your business.

 

Posted bySarah TyrrellinCoronavirusHMRCPayroll


Jul 2020

9

Chancellor announces furlough bonus scheme and more in Summer Statement

“Stand by workers and we’ll stand by you”

Whilst working from home, my daily TV schedule consists of tons of Judge Judy, border patrol programmes and Can’t Pay Take It Away (great show). But yesterday, like many others, I was glued to the live stream from the House of Commons as Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a plethora of announcements that are aimed at stimulating the festering sore that is the UK economy after a global pandemic and nationwide lockdown.

And let me tell you, it’s a lot. Rishi has clearly been listening and a lot of his rhetoric and policy announced in the Summer Statement addressed those whose jobs and futures have been affected the most, in particular young people (16-24) and the hospitality sector. Unemployment rates and redundancies are on the rise with the tapering off of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and these measures are to try and help employees stay in work and help employers to enable them to do so, with the Chancellor stating: “stand by workers and we’ll stand by you”.

So what’s been announced? While there was an abundance of big news, such as the temporary writing off of stamp duty under £500,000 and a £2bn “green homes grants” to make more homes energy efficient, in this blog I will focus mainly on the points that apply to employees and employers.

  • The first major announcement, following on from the Job Retention Scheme which was a lifeline for millions of people in the UK, the next phase is the Job Retention Bonus Scheme. This bonus of £1,000 will be given to an employer for each member of staff they bring back from furlough. To stop people taking the mick and chancing their arm, the employee must be employed from once they’re taken back to at least January 2021 of next year. The employee must also be earning at least £535 per month for this period.
  • A kickstart scheme was then unveiled with the aim to, you guessed it, kickstart job creation for young people as under 25s are 2.5 times more likely to suffer job loss as a result of Covid-19. The government has pledged £2bn to fund hundreds of thousands of jobs for 16-25 year olds whereby they will pay the wages of new, young employees for 6 months. There is no cap on the number of young people that can be hired under this scheme.
  • To boost apprenticeships, which have a 91% successful retention rate, businesses who create positions for new apprentices will be given a bonus of £2,000 for each apprentice under the age of 25 and £1,500 for those over 25. The bonus scheme is available for employees who apply between August 2020 and January 2021.
  • Work coach numbers positions in Job Centres will be doubled and guidance counsellor positions will be boosted also with the aim of helping people find jobs.
  • To help the hospitality sector, a temporary cut to VAT on food, accommodation and attractions has been announced that cuts VAT from 20% to 5%.
  • The Chancellor also announced the introduction of “eat out to help out” vouchers that give diners 50% off their meals out from Mondays to Wednesday with a maximum discount of £10 per person for the month of August only.

So there you have it. While these measures are most welcome and certainly very creative (Rishi gets an A for effort) there are still major concerns not being addressed and it feels a little like putting a plaster on an arrow wound as the economy slowly bleeds out. We need this sort of energy not just now, but for the next couple of years as we come to terms with all of this.

So personally, I will take my butt to a half-price meal and enjoy every bite whilst I silently reserve judgement on it all and wait to see what happens.

Posted byAoibheann ByrneinCoronavirus


Jul 2020

7

5 Principles To Help Protect Your Employees During COVID-19

More and more businesses are reopening at last. This is very good news for the economy as a whole, but also for business owners and their staff that depend on them. However, the shift brings with it some concern surrounding the responsibilities employers now face in regard to how they protect their employees during a public health pandemic. This unchartered territory raises a lot of questions about what employers need to be doing differently, and how they can do it effectively.

Luckily enough, the Government has produced a series of guidance documents which provide information on the appropriate steps that employers should be taking to protect employees from COVID-19.

There are currently 12 separate guidance documents, each one focused on specific industries or other categories. They are:

  • Close contact services
  • Construction and other outdoor work
  • Factories, plants and warehouses
  • Heritage locations
  • Hotels and other guest accommodation
  • Labs and research facilities
  • Offices and contact centres
  • Other people’s homes
  • Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services
  • Shops and branches
  • Vehicles
  • The visitor economy

Many businesses will find that at least two of these categories are applicable to their business. For example, an employer may operate an office and a factory or warehouse. This will mean that some employers may need to work from more than one of the guides.

5 Principles of Protecting Employees

Regardless of what industry you are in, there are 5 principles that employers should be following to protect employees as they come back to work.

1. Risk Assessment

You must carry out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment. In completing your risk assessment you will be looking to identify what work activities might cause transmission of the virus, the likelihood of such a transmission, who is likely to be at risk and formulate a plan to minimise this risk. Once completed, it will be important that you share the results of your risk assessment with staff and staff representatives and make it easily available to them anytime. The BrightPay Connect employee app is perfectly suited to this.

2. Working From Home

Employers need to take all reasonable steps to continue to allow employees to work from home. As an employer, you should allow someone to work from home even if you wouldn't in normal circumstances have agreed to a request for remote working. If it is at all possible for the work to be done in an effective way, even if it's not ideal, even if there are some tasks that can't be done, employers should be doing everything they can to facilitate remote working for the foreseeable future.

3. Workplace Hygiene

Where it is not possible for employees to work from home and they are coming into the workplace, employers will need to put in place appropriate cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures. Suggestions put forward in the guidance include:

  • Providing hand sanitizers in the workplace
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting regularly touched surfaces
  • Encourage people to follow the guidance on hand washing and hygiene

4. Social Distancing

You will also need to ensure that social distancing of 2 metres is in place wherever possible. This will require lots of signage and established one-way systems. Consider placing tape on floors to mark out 2 meter boundaries, make sure that rest areas are appropriately cordoned off so that people aren't encouraged to sit too close together, and limit the number of employees allowed in common areas, such as a staff kitchen, at a time. 

5. Personal Protective Equipment

Of course there are going to be some jobs where social distancing can’t be achieved. In these situations, additional steps should be taken to manage the transmission risk via the use of personal protective equipment. These steps may include the use of gloves, face masks, perspex guards and staggering start/break times.

Internal Communications

As mentioned earlier, once you have completed your risk assessment and you have decided on the preventative measures you are taking, it will be important that you communicate these changes effectively with your employees and your employee representatives or union representatives.

  • It is advisable that you put in place COVID-19 Safe Working Policy. This will clearly communicate to workers what steps you have taken to help prevent the spread of infection and it will also set out any responsibilities workers have. 
  • You should also consider holding a Return to The Workplace Induction in which you go through this new policy in detail and in person to ensure that everyone fully understands the changes being made. 
  • Sending out a Returning to The Workplace Staff Survey before your employees return will help you to identify any concerns they feel about coming back to work and potential gaps in your policy that need to be addressed. 

Make Sure Your Business Is Compliant With Our Free Webinar

The BrightPay team are holding regular webinars to share with you all news relating to HMRC updates, what employers need to know and how you can make sure you’re complying with best practices at all times. Click here to watch our previous COVID-19 webinars on-demand, where we cover everything from important COVID-19 payroll updates to return to work government policies and more.

Posted bySarah TyrrellinCoronavirus


Jul 2020

3

Flexible Furlough - Employees Returning to Work Part-Time

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing to support businesses as the economy is carefully reopened. Before July, employees that were placed on furlough could not undertake work for you. Originally, the scheme was only for employees who were not working, and while on furlough, an employee could not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation.

From 1st July, businesses have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim under the CJRS for hours not worked. This new flexibility will help businesses with reopening and help boost the economy.

The government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees wages for any normal hours they do not work, up until the end of August, but the employer will have to pay employees for the hours they do work. For example, if a furloughed worker returns to work for two days per week, they would need to be paid as normal by their employer for these two days, while the government would cover the other three days.

Employers will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, and so employees can work as much or as little as the business needs, with no minimum time that they can furlough staff for.

Any working hours arrangement agreed between a business and their employee must cover at least one week and be confirmed to the employee in writing. You must keep a written record of the agreement for five years and keep records of how many hours your employees work and the number of hours they are furloughed (i.e. not working).

If employees are unable to return to work, or employers do not have work for them to do, they can remain fully furloughed and the employer can continue to claim the grant for their full hours under the existing rules.

From 1st July, employers will only be able to claim for employees who have previously been furloughed for at least 3 consecutive weeks any time between 1st March 2020 and 30th June 2020. An exception to this is where an employee is returning from statutory parental leave after 10th June and meets the qualifying criteria to be furloughed for the first time.

Where an employee is flexibly furloughed, employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period, the employee’s actual hours worked, and the number of furloughed hours for each claim period.

If you claim in advance and your employee works for more hours than you agreed, then you’ll have to pay some of the grant back to HMRC. This means that you should not claim until you have certainty about the number of hours your employees are working during the claim period.

Interested in finding out more about the new changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme? Watch our webinar on-demand where we discuss flexible furlough, the wind-down of the scheme and changes to making a CJRS claim.

Posted byRachel HynesinCoronavirus